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December 7, 2020

What Are President-Elect Biden’s Plans For Trade Policy?

As President-elect Joe Biden begins to announce the individuals who will serve as his top economic advisers, analysts are starting to speculate what the new administration’s trade policy will look like.

The Washington, D.C.-based newspaper Roll Call, for example, noted last week that, like its predecessors, the “Biden administration will have executive authority to use Section 301 of 1974 trade law to enforce U.S. rights under trade agreements; Section 232 of a 1962 law to restrict trade because of national security; and Section 201 of the 1974 law to give temporary relief to industries trying to adjust to foreign competition.”

But the administration also could use this “authority to remove or modify tariffs that Trump levied.” To that end, according to CNBC, President-elect Biden said last week that he will continue the tariffs that the Trump administration imposed on China while his administration conducts a thorough review of those policies, including the “phase one” trade deal that the Trump administration reached with China earlier this year.

Biden also emphasized that “best China strategy, I think, is one which gets every one of our – or at least what used to be our – allies on the same page … It’s going to be a major priority for me in the opening weeks of my presidency to try to get us back on the same page with our allies” when it comes to trade. But some of the president-elect’s cabinet picks are not fans of the tariffs on Chinese products.

The Wall Street Journal noted last week that Janet Yellen, Biden’s choice to head the U.S. Department of the Treasury, told the Bipartisan Policy Center in February that tariffs had not been effective, partly because they put upward pressure on the U.S. dollar. Yellen also reportedly said “that tariffs had made it more costly for some U.S. manufacturers to import needed components, hurting their competitiveness.”

Connecting the Dots will continue to follow and report on the president-elect’s potential policy for its members.